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Also in the News

Steve Herrmann Steve Herrmann | 16:19 UK time, Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Observant visitors to our website will notice something new later this week. We're adding an extra section called 'Also in the News' where we'll collect together the offbeat and quirky stories which have always been part of our coverage - but which have hitherto been scattered around the site.

What the new index looks likeYou can see it for yourself by clicking here.

We've had an 'Also in the News' slot for individual stories on the front pages for a long time. It's a useful place to put stories which are interesting, unusual, surprising or just plain odd but which are not, frankly, major news. So, for example, our (in)famous man-marries-goat story started life in this slot, as did the memorable video report of a walrus doing sit-ups, to name but two examples.

On any given day there are always a few stories like this, and they usually get well read. As a news site I think it's our task to report on the most significant AND the most interesting, and the 'Also in the News' stories fall squarely into the latter category.

Does it mean we're dumbing down? Well, we've always reported on the odd, amusing and unusual stories as well as the serious and important, so it's not really a new departure – we're just making them easier to find, and to get via RSS if you so choose.


  • 1.
  • At 05:08 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • Jim-UK wrote:

Excellent idea. I don't see it as dumbing down at all, in fact I see it as just the opposite as it makes more space for the serious stuff in the sections you already have.

  • 2.
  • At 06:32 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • S.Handy wrote:

While I appreciate the amusement factor, does the BBC really need this? The web is awash is silly stories about nothing. I keep the BBC on my favorites because you actually report news about the world, not just garbage. You've kept some integrity as other "reporting" sites have fallen for this populist junk. I fear creating a stronger presence for these "also-rans" is the first major step on a slippery slop that ends at the travesty that CNN has become. Next will you be providing us bulleted highlights at the beginnings of your stories because 200 words is just too trying for the poor public? And will you also call that making things "easier for people" instead of the dumbing down it really is, despite your protestations to the contrary? We are already swimming in enough stupid. Please don't add to the pool with this foolish move.

  • 3.
  • At 06:41 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • James wrote:

So long as you are collecting all of these non-news stories into one section for the purpose of minimizing their detrimental impact on the reporting of actual news, I applaud this decision.

  • 4.
  • At 06:56 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • John-Charles wrote:

I'm happy about how the BBC is implementing this idea. I agree that CNN is woefully poor in what it chooses to report as news but the way the BBC does it is excellent. The bulk of the site is serious news but you recognize that there are always "interesting" stories that are worth reporting and this section is a good way to collect them. The AP and Reuters have had these type of sections for a while now anyway.

  • 5.
  • At 07:03 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • David Bean wrote:

This is an excellent idea. Should be an ideal way to find all the answers of the 'news' questions asked in the pub quiz I do each week.

Just what we need. More trivia. BBC Trivia of course. Of course there are many interesting odd tales out there so maybe it's a cool idea.

  • 7.
  • At 07:24 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • Ryan wrote:

Excellent idea, and about time! The BBC has always had well-chosen "Also in the News" stories, and in addition to an entertaining recess, they often give readers a true taste of local life elsewhere. As long as the more tongue-in-cheek writing style in this section doesn't end up turning into sensationalism and detract from BBC's professionalism, I'm all for it!

  • 8.
  • At 07:57 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • hukedonfoniks wrote:

OK, I'm a Yank who gets his news from your site because you actually seem interested in informing the public about what's important and newsworthy; what Britney Spears is doing is (generally) confined to the entertainment section, which I habitually skip. I am shocked that the venerable BBC would be wasting its resources on something like this. I can only assume your time and money are without limit. I will still visit your site because I guess I can ignore this news of the weird the way I ignore most of the pointless fluff in the American media.

  • 9.
  • At 08:05 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • Mick wrote:

Thanks for this section! It's great! :D

  • 10.
  • At 08:17 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

If it's effectively a tidying up exercise then I welcome it.

You should have called it "And Finally" (with apologies to Trevor McDonald)

After watching the circulation of 'Man marries goat',and a flooded yet useless debate on HYS about Mars bars switching back to veggie derivatives, it only makes sense to accomodate those who are into these types of stories,of course, as long as it's on another page away from the Major News.

  • 12.
  • At 08:51 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • Rainer wrote:

Great idea! This makes more space for serious news on the main site, while leaving the reader a choice to see the more "amusing" news of the day if and when sHe likes. Congratulations for maintaining high level journalism, rather than following the CNN example of ranking news by viewer impact, rather than importance.

I remember a headline on one of the more populist parts of your site that said: "Iraqi Idol reunites Iraq".

My feeling was: really? REALLY?

Now that is dumbing down and absolutely insulting to anyone's intelligence.

Give me quirky stories but please avoid the following themes:

1. All foreigners are silly ie someone in some country has a bizarre ritual
2. Pets. Please no.
3. The war is not so terrible because (insert story about single individual here)
4. Stories about people famous for being famous ie Paris Hilton and or anyone from Reality TV.

If you've any quirky stories left after taking them from that lot then, hey, go for it.

  • 14.
  • At 11:08 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • Martin Molloy wrote:

Yep. The BBC has been dumbing down for some time now. This new "bizarre news" section is just another move in that lamentable direction.

  • 15.
  • At 12:49 AM on 23 May 2007,
  • jjohannson wrote:

Please, folks, we're pickling in the inane already (at least over here in the U.S.).

Beyond its reportorial capacities, the BBC has in spades the one thing which the internet itself does not have -- broadcast history.

The video and audio archives of the Beeb would be an invaluable international resource, but one which -- because we are all so inundated with the present -- people will neither pay to see nor know to look for without your help.

Even a passing glance at YouTube will prove to any historian or lay person that large swaths of 20th century history simply aren't available on-line as they were broadcast.

You, the BBC, have the material. Please release it for public good and bury the gee-whiz stuff.

  • 16.
  • At 02:48 AM on 23 May 2007,
  • AC wrote: has an entire page dedicated to this type of stuff. It's called "Not News" - and for good reason. I wish the BBC would rediscover its roots in serious journalism, and leave the mind numbing stupidity to others.

  • 17.
  • At 03:03 AM on 23 May 2007,
  • Paula Greco wrote:

Great idea as it'll make it easier to find the "not-so-important" news if you want to read them, but also will leave more space for serious stuff. But please don't over do it as there are far too many silly stories on the web already.

  • 18.
  • At 05:38 AM on 23 May 2007,
  • Rajiv Thind wrote:

It is a bad bad idea Beeb. BBC news site is a great source of Well Informed news (if not entirely objective)for millions of people around the world. Do you want to (dis)use this reputed portal and resource to disseminate fluff? And surely enough there are TONS of websites that already give us fluff, also almost all newspaper websites around the world, including Australia and NZ.

You can throw in an odd story here and there but once you make up an entire section, that is dumbing down and a waste of your (and your readers') time and energy.

Why don't you start a new section that reports on international human rights abuses by any national 'culture' or 'religion', religious extremists, governments, government agencies, police, military etc. Show your readers how individual freedoms are crushed and human beings butchered, tortured, incarcerated, exterminated, exploited. I read stories from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and U.S. State department annual reports on human rights practices around the world. And I wonder why BBC is not doing more stories about these horrible human rights abuses.

  • 19.
  • At 06:27 AM on 23 May 2007,
  • John Muir wrote:

That's great, so how about removing these annoying 'Video and Audio News' sections which, if I recall correctly, were almost universally detested in your survey of readers views. Why don't you respond to your users wishes? Ever?

  • 20.
  • At 06:55 AM on 23 May 2007,
  • Des Currie wrote:

Any more dumbing down by the BBC and we are going to need an ambulance, please God not a hearse.
Des Currie

  • 21.
  • At 08:30 AM on 23 May 2007,
  • roger wrote:

Couldn't you have come up with a more imaginative section heading than 'Also in the News.' Yawn.
How about 'Offbeat' ?

I think it is a superb idea. Congratulations.

Lovely idea to collate these stories in one section where people who like them and/or are in the mood for them (me) can find them, and people who don't like them can ignore.

However, I'd like to second John Muir's idea of removing the audio and video news sections (or at least being able to customise "my BBC news" so I personally don't have to put up with them any more when I don't want them...

Instead of faffing about with this sort of thing why don't you add a "comments" section to every news story so readers can add their thoughts? Some of your articles are so one-sided that some counterbalance from readers would be welcome I think.

  • 25.
  • At 10:15 AM on 23 May 2007,
  • Kevin wrote:

Wonderful idea - I strongly approve. Given that much of the main news items can be a bit heavy going at times; or oven downright depressing sometimes; it's always good to have something a bit unusual or frivolous at the end to lighten the load a bit. These stories also make good conversational opening line for friends and colleagues.

  • 26.
  • At 10:30 AM on 23 May 2007,
  • ChrisJK wrote:

The BBC News "Most Read/Emailed" lists are totally distorted by the simple fact that you don't indicate, with the link, the date the item was originally published.

Presumably the "popularity" counter merely counts clicks on the link - and has no way to judge the instant rejection when the article turns out to be years old rather than some breaking development.

I've stopped watching BBC1 & BBC2 - and I now ignore more and more of the BBC News web site items as "fluff".

  • 27.
  • At 10:51 AM on 23 May 2007,
  • Aidan wrote:

If it makes the main news pages more serious, then go for it. The BBC news website is great - but its coverage of European news is often adolescent. BBC runs silly trivia too often rather than grappling with real developments in Europe.

In today's European "Top Stories", the headline 'Call to cancel Streisand Rome gig' is higher up the list than 'Explosion rocks Turkish capital'. Other headlines in the section include 'Celibacy row hits French village', a real titter-at-the-funny-foreigners story, as well as 'Duke visits Cutty Sark wreckage' (a major development in European affairs, seemingly).

Meanwhile, two major rulings on labour law and movement of work are due out from the ECJ today. Other sites are covering it; the BBC doesn't seem to have the story.

Less giggle-fodder please; more proper news. The UK is myopic enough without the national broadcaster treating Europe as though it scarcely matters.

  • 28.
  • At 11:00 AM on 23 May 2007,
  • John wrote:

I would welcome a broader range of news. The internet lets me see that there is so much going on news wise that is unreported by the mainstream uk sources - whole wars going on for years that ordinary people don't even know exist (eg. the Keren people in Burma/golden triangle). I would love to see perhaps 5 minutes less per night telling me absolutely nothing has happened in the hunt for one kid in Portugal and one of these unreported stories instead. How about a few stories by local reporters with ENG kit, rather than always focussing on items where you have your own correspondent?

  • 29.
  • At 11:06 AM on 23 May 2007,
  • Laura Bennett wrote:

This is a great idea, I seek out these stories on the web and in print and now I can find them all in one place! It brings a smile to people's faces and a lighter alternative to some of the more heavy going stories! Fantastic!

  • 30.
  • At 11:12 AM on 23 May 2007,
  • Bruce Finlaison wrote:

Anyone who uses the word quirky in relation to his job should not be employed by the BBC.

  • 31.
  • At 11:12 AM on 23 May 2007,
  • Lauren wrote:

I find it intriguing that so many people are shocked by this move. Myself, I applaud it.
The BBC news website is very good at providing its reading public with all the 'serious' news that is required - but the other reason I keep checking this website is because it has some of the most interesting news from around the world. These topics not only broaden our minds of what happens elsewhere or what can happen, but also, I found, provides interesting debate topics in social situations.
Providing a page solely for these new topics surely makes everyone happy - those who prefer to only see the serious articles and those who also want to explore the interesting aspects of our world.
Everyone who criticises this move must remember that these stories where there to begin with - they're simply compiling it into one space.

  • 32.
  • At 11:36 AM on 23 May 2007,
  • Glenn Bungay wrote:

When I lived in the US the local TV sations used to have a section called "whatever happened to" - which was a follow up on recent news items - for example when there had been a large fire they would go back several months afterwards and report on how things have moved on - and on personal stories - lost people etc - they would also do a follow up a few months later - may be another nice feature for your website.

I'm a big supporter of the BBC but I don't feel you should be doing this. There are plenty of commercial sites which specialise in 'quirkies' and there's no public service benefit I can see which justifies the BBC jumping on the bandwagon.

I agree with those people who think the BBC news site has 'dumbed down' recently. While the quantity of news is excellent I've read a number of articles recently where the quality has been distinctly lacking.

  • 34.
  • At 12:04 PM on 23 May 2007,
  • harry charnaud wrote:

i think you need to have a 'page(s)'
similar to to page 2,3 and 4 in the Times or Daily Telgraph wher one can read secondary news, but which may be more pertinent to the readers and where they live.h

  • 35.
  • At 12:09 PM on 23 May 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

Anyone with half a brain can see that this is just a cynical preparation for sending "amusing pics" to moblie phones in the near future----- just another example of BBC commercialism.
When it happens, and it will, surely it means that we won't need to pay our TV licence-tax any more, since the BBC will will making so much money from pushing these rubbisht stories and pics rubbish to kids' mobiles.

Thanks for all your comments – to those who are happy we are doing this (so they can research pub quiz answers or for whatever other reasons) – good, and I hope it becomes a regular destination in your travels round the site.

To those who aren’t – I’d like to reassure you this isn’t a "slippery slope" – we’re not going to do fewer serious news stories as a result – because we’re not actually going to do more non-serious stories than before, what we ARE doing is making them easier to find. We’ve always had a mixture of stories, and we can see from the traffic to the site that people also read a mixture of stories – serious as well as less serious (you can see that too by looking at our "most read" listings).

As far as the name goes – 'and finally', 'offbeat news' – we thought about those and other names but in the end stuck to what we’ve called this slot all along.

To jjohannson – the BBC recently announced plans to open up its archive – initially as a trial – you can read about the announcement by Ashley Highfield here.

To Rajiv Thind: we do and will continue to report on human rights abuses – today we’re covering the Amnesty report, for example.

To John Muir: the A/V section wasn’t "universally detested" – and AV traffic has grown since we started promoting it more clearly – so there is an appetite for it – but what we haven’t done yet is follow up on the feedback by changing the implementation of the AV section on the front pages so it "remembers" its state (e.g. stays closed) on subsequent visits. We still intend to do that.

  • 37.
  • At 12:45 PM on 23 May 2007,
  • Chandra wrote:

I actually have room in my brain for serious national and international news AND total trivia, so I welcome any way you can arrange your website that makes it easier for me to find either, as I may require.

  • 38.
  • At 01:23 PM on 23 May 2007,
  • Lorna wrote:

Splendid idea - our CBC As It Happens newsbroadcast will rely on you for their odd stories which often come from Britain - now we can read them in the morning! Lorna Toronto

  • 39.
  • At 01:34 PM on 23 May 2007,
  • NicolaH wrote:

Some people really are very easily annoyed! I would hazard a guess that most of the people complaining about this are over 40. I just don't see what the fuss is about, as long as the "quality" stories are still there you have a choice as to what you read. Wake up to the modern world folks.

  • 40.
  • At 03:40 PM on 23 May 2007,
  • Linda wrote:

I don’t mind the occasional quirky story, the so-called human interest items. But when they border on the inane, the stupid, and the gross – who am I (or any of us) to judge? But when the BBC ventures into sensationalizing a story, making it more Ripley’s Believe it of Not, ignoring the news, that’s when I lose all hope in today’s journalistic talents. Don’t lose sight. Be careful where you venture. After all, many of us go to BBC for the News not the latest goat betrothal.

I would say it would be great to see that, because normally these kind of stories normally get mixed with others, so now we will be able to see them at one place, and feed is best thing, to see the archives of all of thoes.

Previously i also have requested for a new tag about "FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS", because these are "Summary" of the whole event.

So that would also be nice if they come under another tag.

Good idea, but it won't help me with the pub quiz I do, as all the questions seem to assume you're in your mid 40's and know about 70's and 80's music!

  • 43.
  • At 12:12 PM on 25 May 2007,
  • Gregor Aitken wrote:

I have a great idea for the website.

Why not have a section called under the carpet. In this section you could list all the news that the bbc decides not to report on.

you could havce a great icon of a carpet being lifted up at the corner and maybe jumbled letters being swept underneath with a brush made of cash.

In this section you could highlight stories that the BBC have no interest in reporting because it would be just way to much hassle.

From 911 to 7/7, the back-down over the hutton inquiry, the gradual removal of our rights- you could even go as far back as the 100 year gagging order relationg to the dunblane massacre.

As a bonus you could show the stories that you report instead of real news

For instance -

We could have investigated and reported on the lack of public inquiry into 7/7 and the mndez killing.


we spent the money and time on a Charlotte Church special looking into her forthcoming weddingf with Gavin Henson

I think this would be great as it would show us, the funders of our public service broadcater, that you have absolutly no interest in doing anything like your job.

Gob belss auntie, eh

  • 44.
  • At 03:08 PM on 25 May 2007,
  • Jack H wrote:

Excellent idea. May I suggest putting a link to the new section in the "More from BBC News" bit at the bottom of the front page, as well as in the left-hand menu? - for consistency with the other topics available.

  • 45.
  • At 06:22 AM on 26 May 2007,
  • Xie_Ming wrote:

The civil servant posting this argues in a circle [as paraphrased]:

"people are interested in trivia, see the number of hits"

"since people are interested we should do more trivia"

But "we are not doing more trivia, we are just making them easier to find"

Uh huh!

Look at the World Have Your Say Topics..the degeneration is evident.

Is the real target a mass audience base for future advertising?

  • 46.
  • At 01:22 PM on 28 May 2007,
  • Sandra Pow Chong wrote:

This is quite a good idea as it takes the reader out of serious mode into something a little more light hearted and maybe even humourous.
so long as everything is sectioned clearly and not muddled with the more important news it should be fine.

Oh come on, this is ridiculous. Of course it's dumbing down. You've observed that these stories are well read and are responding to demand, despite the fact that it obviously skews the news output more towards trivia than quality news journalism.

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